Earlier this year, the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban announced he intends to participate in the efforts to rebuild following the devastating earthquake in Nepal. He also plans to use the brick and other rubble in these rebuilding efforts, which will kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. New housing will be provided faster, while clearing away the debris at the same time.


Ban designed the relief housing himself, and it will be made up of a modular wooden framework, which will measure 3 feet, by 7 feet. The homes will be available for immediate occupation via the use of temporary tarps thrown over the structure. This will allow the people to continue building while already having a roof over their heads. The building will be done using rubble and other materials for the infill. Once the structure is completed, the walls will be mortared with locally available materials. A cardboard tube truss system, connected with wooden pieces will be used to support the roof.


In designing the relief housing, Ban familiarized himself with traditional Nepalese methods of building. He implemented this research in the design of the homes’ operable window frames. Ban and his team have already built the prototype of this home in Japan, and plan to start the rebuilding efforts in Nepal soon. As for their long-term plan, they also plan on starting to build new permanent homes using the architect’s existing prefabricated housing designs, which he created for use in the Philippines.




Repurposing rubble to build new homes is a great idea from many standpoints, both environmental and humanitarian. Apart from speeding up the building of relief housing, the ability to construct their own homes with doubtlessly also empower those worst affected by the tragedy.